Ravi Shastri will be at the helm of the Indian One Day International team for the first time as full-time coach when Virat Kohli's men take on Sri Lanka in the first of the five-match ODI series in Dambulla on Sunday, August 20.
Team India are heading into the limited-overs series on the back of a historic 3-0 whitewash of the hosts in the recently-concluded Test series. Kohli though has been tasked with the job of leading a new-look Indian side, which has been chosen keeping in mind the preparations for 2019 Cricket World Cup.
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Veterans Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina have been axed after they failed fitness tests, while MS Dhoni will be facing an acid test. The former India captain has to consistently perform if he is to retain his place in the side, according to chief selector MSK Prasad.
On the other hand, India will also be without their spin twins R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and pace duo of Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav as all of them have been rested ahead of the upcoming home season, in which India will take on Australia, New Zealand and a visiting Sri Lankan team.
The availability of regular openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan comes as a big boost to the team. With KL Rahul primed for the No. 4 position, it will be a three-way tussle between Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Kedar Jadhav for the No. 5 slot.
Dhoni and Hardik Pandya will be key men in the middle order, especially in the absence of all-rounders Ashwin and Jadeja.
India's bowling unit looks complete despite the absence of big names. Shardul Thakur is unlikely to get into the playing XI with the availability of ODI specialists Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
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Kohli's preference for wrist-spinners would also mean Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav getting nods ahead of left-arm spinner Axar Patel.
Sri Lanka should take heart from Champions Trophy win
On the other hand, Sri Lanka will be looking to get back to winning ways in ODIs following their humiliating 2-3 loss to Zimbabwe at home last month. In 2017, the islanders have won only four out of 16 ODIs.
Whitewash against South Africa, a drawn home series against Bangladesh and the defeat to Zimbabwe have put their direct qualification for the next World Cup at risk. Sri Lanka now need to win at least two of the the five ODIs in the upcoming series to make the main draw of the quadrennial event to be held in England in 2019.
Upul Tharanga's men though should take confidence from the way they outclassed India in the Champions Trophy 2017 campaign by successfully chasing over 320.
With the addition of Lasith Malinga and Thisara Pererea, Sri Lanka have an all-round squad at their disposal, but it remains to be seen whether Tharanga can help the team bring out its best.
In Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera, Kusal Mendis and Tharanga, Sri Lanka have a solid middle order. All eyes will be on Lakshan Sandakan and Wanidu Hasaranga as the spinners will be expected to limit the run flow in what seems to be pitch suited for batting at Dambulla.
Pitch and conditions
Bangladesh had won an ODI against Sri Lanka earlier this year after posting 300-plus. The Dambulla pitch is expected to offer enough for the batsmen once again.
There reportedly is a possibility of showers late in the evening and thus the day-night game might witness some interruptions
Playing XI: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Playing XI: Upul Tharanga (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera, Wanidu Hasaranga, Thisara Perera, Vishwa Fernando, Lasith Malinga, Lakshan Sandakan